“Of course, an arts student always wants to go to the Art Gallery…” – Kristina
So once again I’ve had to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming here on the TRUmeetsKAG blog. Last week I had every good intention of attending and covering an artists’ talk with my lovely student volunteer. However, the universe decided it was not meant to be. Jennifer and I arrived at the gallery waiting to absorb the knowledge of the visiting artist, but alas we were met with sorrow filled faces. Two gallery guides met us and announced the tragic news. We took pause to process our grief, in an attempt to move forward with our lives. Drama aside, I realized I still had an article to write. Looking around frantically I scanned the room for some inspiration. The Gallery Store was indeed an interesting specimen. It contains a variety of good looking items from earrings to post cards, many of which were made right here in B.C.! Profiling the store would have been fine, just dandy even. But then I thought of something better. Right before me I had two living breathing pieces of KAG. Way better.
I was familiar with Kristina and Jillian in a very strange way. I had seen them both on my previous trips to KAG but never really had the opportunity to say hello. Then I received a comment from Jillian on one of Instagram posts, inviting to stop by. So, I was abstractly familiar with their existence but had yet to add any real substance. In a lull, I decided to ask Kristina if I could borrow her and ask a few quick questions. Here is just a taste of what transpired:
Sheridan: So, what was your relationship with KAG like while you were at TRU?
Kristina: I came to a lot of openings. A lot of the professors in the art program were really good at letting us know “hey this is happening tonight go see it.” Or even making assignments about the gallery. I was here for most of the shows during that time.
S: Did you enjoy going or did it feel forced?
K: I genuinely enjoyed going to the art gallery! Even when it was a busy student time, there was still a part of me that really enjoyed it.
S: What is your relationship with the gallery like now that you work here?
K: I’ve gotten to know a lot more sections of the gallery and the inner workings of it so that’s really exciting to me. Being here for all of the programs and events offered…it’s more of a lifestyle now.
S: So, what is your favourite program here?
K: I’d have to say the Ladies’ Afternoon Drawing Club. I know it’s a favourite for a lot of people but everybody always comes out laughing and having a good time, it’s a feel-good kind of event!
S: Do you see potential for TRU students to come here and enjoy [the gallery] the way you did when you attended?
K: Definitely! If you have a pre-existing interest in art, or you’re just wanting to get more involved. Or if you don’t know anything and you just want to look and see how you feel about it, it’s a great thing. Of course Thursdays are free admission days so that’s a perfect time for the non-art enthusiasts to come check it out!
Needless to say, I was thrilled! Over my few years of experience I have found that as soon as you raise a camera or recording device people tend to recoil. The mere concept of having themselves recorded seems to read as more of a punishment than a simple request. Luckily for me, Kristina was by no means one of those people. She spoke so clearly and concisely! I am beginning to wonder if KAG employees are trained in public speaking. Regardless, we had a great chat about the relationship between the gallery and TRU. Some things I had already figured, others I hadn’t thought of. At this point in the night, I was starting to regret not involving more employees…and sooner! Thankfully, I did get some of my wish fulfilled. After our recorded conversation was over, Jillian, Kristina and I continued chatting about this special place. They told me some of their fondest memories and we all shared our thoughts on certain articles that had made the headlines recently. #artisporn. We spent a good while sharing and joking until I finally relented and released them from my endless stream of consciousness.
Despite my original shock and disappointment, I’m really glad the artist never showed that night. I’ve been so focused on highlighting the programs and events at KAG that I neglected to see the element that makes it all so great: the people. For the most part I have spent this journey dealing with our one awesome Emily. Now don’t get me wrong she is fantastic, but now I see that she’s not alone in being fantastic. All the cogs (a.k.a. people) that work at the Kamloops Art Gallery are there for a reason, they have some kind of connection to that place. Something that allows them to speak for and about it in a way that no one could ever be trained to do. I don’t know if that translates to passion or instinct, but it’s something pretty amazing. Even though this wasn’t my regularly scheduled review, I still want to give it a rating. Easily, 5/5. I’ll make it 10/10 for this one because it sounds better. I 100% recommend that everyone connects themselves in some capacity to the wonderful people working at KAG. I was lucky to spend a few minutes with them, imagine what you could learn in a day or a lifetime. This place is what it is because of the people who invest in it with their hearts and souls. I wouldn’t change a thing. Keep doing what you’re doing KAG employees, you’ve got it right!